Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Thompson Center Arms Contender and G2 Answers

I've had to deal with a number of questions about the Thompson Center Contender and G2 regarding interchangeability of parts including barrels, stocks and such.  I'm going to give it a go to have the whole deal in one place to which I can refer without having to write it all out again.

The pistol/rifle barrel interchangeability thing was addressed in a case before the Supreme Court of the United States and one can switch the original Contender back and forth, most frames have been changed so often through dealers that one can't know how they were first sold. However, there may be questions about the G2 and Encore frames because they were sold after the decision and it is possible that somebody would think they weren't covered by the decision... Yes, I know it is confusing but the only way anyone would ever know is if they get you for something else and then do an investigation to make their case stick. In practical terms it is a non-starter so long as you don't assemble a sub 16" barrel on a rifle stocked frame.

As to barrels. ALL Contender barrels will work on all frames with only a couple of caveats. First is that many years ago TC switched to the split locking bolt in conjunction with the "easy opening" frame and newer frames are SOMETIMES problematic with the old solid locking bolt.

Second is that isn't including G2 barrels which have a little stud off the bottom of the lug for some calibers (.375 JDJ and .45 ML come to mind). That stud has clearance in a little cut in the G2 frame that doesn't exist in the Contender frame. Folks are just cutting the stud off the bottom of the lug. TC did this to avoid liability issues with cleaning on the ML barrels and with frame stretching on the .375 JDJ barrels. This is because it is very easy to load the .375 JDJ to the point that pressures exceed limits of the Contender frame.

Third is that the Armor Alloy (a plating system used by TCA) barrels might not interchange. The critical dimension is the link pin hole. Carefully polish it out and voila! Many have already been so altered which is why I say "maybe". All it takes is some crocus cloth wrapped around a dowel (some folks use a pencil) and spun in the link pin hole. Not so sure about the Armor Alloy FRAMES as I can't remember anyone trying a blued barrel on the frame but I think (might, might not work) using a blue link pin on the Armor Alloy frame with the blue barrel will work. Just can't remember anyone doing that. The AA barrels are MUCH more common than the frames but not that common. TC quickly changed to stainless. I imagine that if the pin hole is too small for the blue pin it could be opened up. The problem stemmed from using mostly standard dimensions but adding the plating after final dimensions had been achieved.

The Encore is NOT the Contender/G2. It is a larger frame and will handle higher pressure cartridges. However it won't handle the short magnums because the breach thrust will stretch the frame. This is due to the larger case head on those cartridges. All Encore barrels will work on all Encores.

All CONTENDER and G2 frames have switchable hammer faces to fire rimfire, not so for the Encores. Various schemes have been concocted to put the rimfire barrels on Encores but it seems that not many have pursued that as I've yet to see a rimfire Encore barrel.

The stocks can be confusing in that it seems that forearms (which have had many different variations for the Contender) are useable on the G2 as well.  However, the changes to the frame have required a different buttstock for the G2 and these do not interchange between the two actions.

One more point, the original Contender is not referred to as the "G1".

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